Some grill enthusiasts will spend hundreds or thousands on a top-of-the-line behemoth for their backyard culinary adventures, but most of us don’t want to—or can’t—afford such a luxury.
Unless you’re a professional chef (or at least, someone who grills very frequently), you’re probably looking for a good quality grill that can get the job done, but without putting a dent in your wallet.
Our buyer’s guide will explore some of the questions around budget grills, and feature four of the best grills for under $200.
Is $200 enough for a good grill? What if I need the cheapest grill possible?
Yes, $200 is plenty for a standard grill that’s built to last and delivers even, reliable cooking. Just like anything else, well-known brands will often cost more, as well as any add-ons and fancy features—but when you get right down to the basics, all grills are designed to do the same thing: cook food. The real question isn’t of price, but simply quality: if a grill looks cheaply made and has poor reviews, it doesn’t matter if it’s $100 or $1,000—it’s a bad deal.
The cheapest grill possible will be a very standard kettle grill that runs on charcoal.
These sell for about $10-$15, can be found at almost any store that sells grilling equipment, and provide a modest but very functional grill to suit standard use.
If you grill very frequently or need a bigger surface area, you might need a larger, more expensive model.
Are there any features I’ll be missing out on at this price point?
Overall, you can find the same features on any lower priced grill that you’d find on an expensive model—but there are a few add-ons and upgrades a higher price can get:
Of course, many of these features aren’t just above the $200 mark—they’re above the $1,000 mark!
It’s tempting to go all-out on a grill with so many bells and whistles, but think about your budget and how much you can really afford, as well as what you’ll actually use the grill for.
Sure, a motorized rotisserie option is great, but not if you’ll never roast a chicken or leg of lamb.
I need a big grill for a lot of people. Can $200 get me a large model?
Yes, although not as large as commercial-use grills (or the giant smoker styles you might find at big barbeques). Most grills will come with 200-500 square inches of surface area, with a few exceeding even that.
For reference, 500 square inches can cook 24 standard hamburgers at once, which is plenty for most people’s needs. You should also look at how many burners a grill has, since a lot of surface area with only one burner would translate to faster cooking near the center, and slower cooking at the outside edges.
Many people prefer this, so they can cook vegetables or toast buns near the outside instead of directly over a burner, or slow-cook their food; some would rather have multiple burners, or even infrared plates, for a more even heat distribution.
Which fuel type is cheapest?
Charcoal grills are the least expensive kind to buy, but the charcoal itself can be pricier than propane, depending on the rates where you live. On average, charcoal costs $2.50 per cookout, while propane can cost $1.00 to $3.00. Charcoal also takes longer to heat up and requires more cleaning afterward, so you should factor in your time, as well.
Propane grills, however, cost more to maintain; you have to replace leaking lines, valves, and other parts as they age and wear out, whereas charcoal grills typically need a new grate every so often and nothing more.
Some propane grills can even utilize your natural gas line, if you have one. You’ll need an adapter kit, but the cost is worth it for many frequent grillers.
For camping, you can also consider using your campfire with a simple grate. Some of these have legs to straddle the fire pit, and others sit directly over top it. Not only can you grill on these surfaces (usually), but you can also use cookware—just like you would on your stovetop at home. Of course, this isn’t everyone’s preferred method, but is certainly economical.
Another fuel option is…none at all! Electric grills cost about 25 cents per cookout, and come at prices comparable to many propane models.
Top 5 Best Grills Under 200 Dollars
1. George Foreman GGR50B 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill Review
If you’re looking for a more economical (or eco-friendly) alternative to propane and charcoal, an electric option can be perfect for your needs.
Some apartments and neighborhoods don’t allow anything that could flare up and cause fires, so many buyers will be happy to see an affordable option that can get around those rules.
As a bonus, it’s got the ever-popular George Foreman brand behind it.
Granted, this isn’t the most impressive electric option you’ll find—but its affordable price makes it one of the best values in this category, and a smart buy if you want to save money on fuel, as well. The longer cooking times do present a bit of a challenge, though, and might not be worth the savings for some buyers.
2. Smoke Hollow 205 Stainless Steel Portable Tabletop Propane Grill Review
A bit larger than the previous model, this table top option from Smoke Hollow runs on propane instead of electricity—which does cost more, but makes it perfect for traveling, camping, and tailgating during football season. It also has a warming rack (great for sides), and latching hood to travel more easily.
A portable propane grill is a must-have for grillers on the go, and this model from Smoke Hollow offers one at a price anyone can swing (which leaves more in the budget for premium burger meat or steaks).
The only downside is its height: its legs are designed for tabletop use, which means you’ll need to purchase a compatible stand separately if literal tailgating isn’t your style.
3. Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill Review
Charcoal remains a favorite with grillers for the unique, smoky flavor it gives food, from meats to vegetables, for a true “cookout taste” you can’t get with other fuel types.
While it takes a little more patience to light (and clean), charcoal grills are often the cheapest to buy. This one from Weber looks like a standard kettle grill, but does have a few features you won’t get in $20 options.
Made in America and backed by a 10-year warranty, the Weber Original Kettle grill boasts value in more ways than one. Its price is affordable and its construction is solid; the company, which has been in business since 1952, clearly knows what makes a good grill. We especially love its one-touch ash catcher, which makes cleaning all too easy.
4. Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill Review
The Sportsman grill is a little heavy for tailgating (32 lbs.), but every ounce is necessary: this virtually indestructible charcoal grill is made of cast-iron, and the grate is pre-seasoned (coated with oil for easy care). It has a handle for carrying, draft door, coal access, and a built-in shelf—all in a compact, rugged setup.
If caring for cast iron isn’t your cup of tea, skip this model. High-inclusion chefs with a lot of mouths to feed won’t enjoy the Sportsman’s small size, either—but for a select few, a cast iron grill is the ultimate in culinary luxury.
While heavier than any other grill of this size, it is technically portable. And although its maintenance is hardly fuss-free, it really doesn’t need much more than any other cast iron cookware.
5. Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Electric Patio Bistro 240 Review
Another electric model, this unassuming patio-sized grill from Char-Broil boasts a surprising feature for this price range: infrared plates, which disperse heat evenly and reach temperatures far higher than any fuel type on its own. This grill is already priced quite well for any electric grill, but for an infrared one too, it’s a definite bargain.
Char-Broil has outdone themselves on this model, which features so much more than a typical “budget grill” would. We recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want propane or charcoal (or can’t, depending on where they live) and loves the idea of a perfectly seared steak of restaurant caliber, right in their own backyard.
Finding the right grill on a budget is definitely possible, once buyers know what fuel type (if any) they’d prefer, how many people they’ll regularly cook for, and which features and add-ons they simply can’t do without.
While expensive grills certainly look like they’d perform better, current research, reviews, and the test of time prove inexpensive ones can cook just as well for a fraction of the cost.